Ric Flair is officially recognized by WWE as a 16-time world champion (eight-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, six-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and two-time WWF Champion), although the number of his world championship reigns varies by source, ranging from 16 to 25.
He has claimed to be a 21-time champion. He was the first holder of the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship (which he also held last). As the inaugural WCW World Heavyweight Champion, he became the first person to complete WCW's Triple Crown, having already held the United States Heavyweight and World Tag Team Championships.
Speaking on Busted Open Radio, Flair explained his first post-surgery promo: “I decided this time when I woke up that I got nothing to lose. Does that make sense? And I am going to not drink two beers and have an anxiety attack anymore.
That’s where I was. The first time I drank a beer or anything was at my wedding, and the two or three beers and the glass of champagne that I had, I went upstairs and the anxiety was so bad that it wasn’t worth drinking.
Well, I found out that the drinking isn’t what did it. The drinking, yes, has worn down my immune system, but it’s a result of going septic. So after four surgeries where they put you to sleep — and that’s the unknown, right? I mean, you just never know if you’re gonna wake up.
And that’s a given, especially when you’ve had that many surgeries, and especially as you get older, you know? Anesthesia, it can be complicated. There can be complications. I just said to myself, ‘Hell. I’m gonna say what I think and what I feel.’ And actually I just sat back down and rest[ed] for two days after I made that."